The New York Yankees’ rotation wasn’t the team’s biggest issue in 2022 — but that doesn’t mean championship-starved fans wouldn’t be pretty psyched to poach Justin Verlander from the Houston Astros or add Carlos Rodón as a fire-breathing No. 2.
Unfortunately, the best the Yankees are probably going to be able to do here is a back-end option to replace the dependable Jameson Taillon, who’s hitting free agency after two years in the Bronx.
Taillon himself could still return, especially in the current wonky pitching climate that includes Tyler Anderson’s All-Star season being rewarded with only a middling three-year deal. Could Taillon sign a similar contract? Maybe a slightly smaller one? Would the Yankees oblige?
It seems safer to speculate about the right-hander’s departure, especially considering the Yankees didn’t unlock much during his time in the Bronx. Taillon arrived as a potential top-of-the-rotation arm beset by injuries, and he leaves having stayed mostly healthy, but without having hit that substantial ceiling. Taillon was good, not great. The Yankees will likely look to replace him with a slightly cheaper, good-not-great arm.
Expect the following arms to all sign deals at the upcoming Winter Meetings, ranging from two highly affordable years to three slightly-tougher-to-stomach seasons.
3 Yankees rotation options who could replace Jameson Taillon in free agency
3. Jose Quintana
In an unexpected reversal, Yankees fans who expected the team to “settle” for Jose Quintana at the 2022 trade deadline were thrilled to see the team pry away a big fish instead, dealing for Oakland’s Frankie Montas.
Of course — of course — the end result was that Quintana was excellent down the stretch for the playoff-bound Cardinals, while Montas was both injured and unplayable in New York.
Montas will be the team’s de facto No. 4 to open the 2023 season, pending further injury setbacks, which sounds pretty good at face value! Unfortunately, that “face value” doesn’t factor in how much face Montas has to save after he face planted last August and September. Just to be on the safe side, the Yankees should probably import Quintana this time around, too, who’ll only cost about ~$36 million for a three-year deal.
While the left-hander probably won’t be (alright, fine, definitely won’t be) as good as a Yankee as he was with the Cardinals, Quintana rebuilt his value with a 3.4 WAR season spent entirely within the confines of the NL Central. That value is still far from sky high, though, and the Yankees can afford to take a chance on $12 million annually for a 33-year-old who rebounded to post a 2.93 ERA (2.01 down the stretch in St. Louis) alongside top-notch hard contact Statcast numbers (78th percentile in barrel percentage, 89th in hard-hit).
Quintana did more with less than Taillon in 2022, and will make less moving forward as well. The Yankees should be very interested (and probably should’ve been last summer, too).